By James Atkinson

The Mean Fiddler Hotel, long rated as one of New South Wales' most violent pubs, has failed to overturn a new licence condition imposed on the venue by liquor authorities.

Police submitted to the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming & Racing (OLGR) that acts of violence causing injury had occurred on five occasions at the pub during the 2010/11 financial year.

Police alleged that following these incidents, the Mean Fiddler had not complied with a voluntary undertaking in its licence to preserve the scene of the crime and immediately notify police.

In July, the OLGR escalated the undertaking to a mandatory condition in the pub's licence, which if breached carries a maximum penalty of $11,000 and/or imprisonment of 12 months.

The pub's owner, Drinx Pty Ltd, sought review of the decision by the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA), arguing that its procedures in relation to notification of police had been improved since the incidents in question and were now working effectively.

The pub argued that the police had sought the imposition of the condition by reason that the hotel is one of the most violent premises in New South Wales, "but that is no longer the case".

They argued that the pub receives about 500,000 visits per annum, yet there were only 18 reported assault incidents on the premises in the past year, notwithstanding this very large patronage.

But ILGA chairperson Chris Sidoti said the undertaking to report incidents of violence causing injury was clear enough in the pub's licence, and the repeated failures to inform police immediately constituted a breach of the licence.

"In the Authority's view those incidents of non-compliance provided a reasonable basis for the police to approach the Director General seeking to escalate the obligation from a voluntary undertaking to a mandatory licence condition," Sidoti said.

Until April 2011, the Mean Fiddler Hotel ranked as the second most violent licensed premises in New South Wales.

But the pub has since dropped down the list to become a Level 2 venue, with 18 violent incidents attributed to the venue in the 12 months to December 31 last year.

The Shout Team

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